Theatre Review: Tartuffe-aloof

Those who chose to attend the GW Department of Theater’s production of Tartuffe as a relaxing break from a session of hard midterm studying might have reconsidered their decision. Filled with complex words, delivered in a fast, often rhyming and continuous pace, this play required brainpower from the audience members. One after the another, the multi-syllable words poured from the actors’ mouths, and just when audience members began experiencing d?j? vu of SAT review classes, the seemingly aloof play became a humorous, relatable story of deceit and lies.

A classic Moli?re comedy about a friendship gone sour, Tartuffe, a social climber, takes advantage of the generosity of Orgon, a gullible and naive father of the house, by pretending to be a genuinely pious man. Ultimately, Orgon becomes so engulfed by Tartuffe’s lies that he banishes his son, negligently promises his daughter to Tartuffe and loses his estate based entirely on the advice of his trickster friend. In the end, Tartuffe’s conniving scheme fails, and justice reigns supreme.

Dressed in classic 17th Century attire, the actors made a convincing show wearing tight, corset-like, flowing, long dresses. Moreover, senior Michael Lutton, and freshman Tim Guillot’s ability to walk comfortably in heavy three-piece-suits and powdered wigs, was a feat worth applauding.

The entire play takes place in one room, which doesn’t leave much leeway in terms of creative scenery. Yet true to the production’s nature, the single room was fashioned with the same 17th Century feel as the actors’ attire.

Although all the actors did a remarkable job spitting out difficult lines in a “Gilmore Girls” type fashion, it was often difficult to relate to the abstract terminology. The fact that many of the lines rhyme only added to the confusion. As the play continued, it became easier to adjust to the odd dictation of lines.

One actress in particular, senior Emily Beaton, did an exceptional job delivering these seemingly detached lines in a more relatable, contemporary manner. Beaton’s character, Dorine, is a loudmouthed, nosy maid. Although her lines were just as difficult as the other characters’, she performed them with incredible comfort and grace. This ease played directly into her ability to relate to the audience with fluid hand gestures and humorous facial expressions.

The second act was drawn out unnecessarily. Besides the high-pitched wailing performed by the daughter Mariane (sophomore Nicole Vogel), most of it was forgettable. On the other hand, the ending was worth staying for, even though my head was ringing.

While the performance provided a break from the books for some, there may have been one book audience members had wished they had brought: a dictionary.

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